DALLAS – SMU used a handful of explosive plays in the first half to defeat Louisiana Tech, 38-14, on Saturday at Gerald L. Ford Stadium.
While LA Tech (1-1) got shutout in the first half for the first time since 2020, SMU (1-0) put up 31 points through the first 30 minutes to hand the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.
“(SMU has) done a good job recruiting in the transfer portal, but the bottom line is that they outplayed this really on defense,” Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie said. “Their defense outplayed our offense. I think our defense played really gave us a chance to win the football game. We didn’t give our team much help on offense.
“Our football team is it’s still a good football team. I truly believe that there is not that big of a gap between us with how we played today. But we’re going to keep getting better. But I was proud of the way how our defense played. I really thought they played hard and they played a physical style.”
The ‘Dogs were primed to score first in the ball game, getting a 31-yard grab by Kyle Maxwell to get into field goal range. However, Buck Buchanan’s 51-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
On the very next play, the Mustangs’ Preston Stone hit Jordan Hudson for a 67-yard touchdown up the right sideline to put SMU on the scoreboard with 4:25 remaining in the first quarter.
Two plays later, SMU got another touchdown, this one by its defense as Hank Bachmeier’s short pass was intercepted by Kori Roberson and returned for 16 yards and the score.
The Bulldog defense stopped the Mustangs inside their red zone on their next offensive possession, forcing a field goal. They also pinned SMU back inside its 10-yard line, forcing a punt. However, LA Tech was called for an illegal substitution, giving the Mustangs a first down. They turned that into seven more points with 5:08 to go in the second quarter thanks in large put due to a 43-yard reception.
After the LA Tech offense stalled again at midfield, SMU got the ball back with only 30 seconds remaining in the first half. On the ensuing play, the Mustangs broke off a 67-yard run. Two plays later, SMU made it 31-0 with a 25-yard touchdown completion with just two ticks left on the clock.
Getting the ball first to start the second half, the Bulldogs needed just four plays to go 75 yards for its first score of the game. All four were completions by Bachmeier, including a 53-yard connection with Koby Duru on third down (the team’s first third-down conversion of the contest).
“I think in the second half we came out and guys played hard,” Cumbie said. “Offensively, we had some explosive plays and we were able to get down and score a touchdown on the first try. But we’ve got to execute better on offense. We’ve got to throw and catch better on offense and then we’ve got to create some sort of running game regardless of who we have a running back.”
That was the only scoring in the third quarter. The Mustangs were limited to a late touchdown in the fourth quarter. LA Tech tacked on another TD of its own with 26 seconds left in the game, a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Keith Willis Jr. that was setup by a 36-yard grab by Julien Lewis.
- With the loss, LA Tech now leads the all-time series versus SMU, 4-3. The Bulldogs are now 1-2 against the Mustangs in Dallas.
- Smoke Harris caught a game-high seven receptions.It marked the 25th time in his career he has recorded at least five catches in a single game. He extended his streak of games with at least one reception to 33.
- Hank Bachmeier connected with nine different receivers for completions, six of which had multiple receptions.
- Cecil Singleton, Jr. tallied a game-high and career-high 10 tackles.
- The Bulldog defense registered six pass breakups, led by Willie Roberts who had three.
LA Tech returns to Ruston on Saturday, Sept. 9 to host Northwestern State at Joe Aillet Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on ESPN+.
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